Given how occupied I’ve been in the past two weeks with a camp in the Canary Islands, Dr. John Post volunteered to serve as an official Guest Blog Contributor. Dr. Post is a close friend of many years, a long-time triathlete and the Medical Director of TrainingBible Coaching. Dr. Post also has his own excellent blog here. I leave you in good hands...
Joe’s been quite busy lately with his training camp on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Tenerife may sound familiar to you as training ground for a number of Tour de France teams. So I offered to take over the duties of this week’s blog and give the guy a break. I’ve been the TBC Medical Director for the past couple years and it’s been quite rewarding. Although I frequently encounter medical or injury questions in areas far from my strength, my wife is an Internist and – as you’d expect – many of my friends are docs and together we seem to get the job done. It’s fun helping athletes.
I saw a recent piece on a tri forum coming down a bit hard on folks who seek medical advice in a forum based environment, particularly since so many of the posts are from an anonymous source. It’s been noted that requests for medical information vary greatly from simply seeking information about a particular topic or condition to those seeking others with a specific injury for their thoughts, errors and solutions to the condition. And then there comes the, “Should I train with ___________?” type of question.
It’s not surprising that individuals who trai n a great deal suffer frequent injury. It’s also not surprising that in the winter months they may have a little more time on their hands (and frustration from weather blocked or canceled training) and may post a little more frequently. Noting this seasonal increase in medical posts, one clever chap poked fun at the triathlete mind set when he asked, “Re: Bi-fibular cardial malopathy with anterior malifscation of the greater oropasticum while undergoing amnio-ongonesis: Should I train?” And, you know that in some cases he’s not far from the truth!
Also, the level of expertise expected from the questioner in the response varies wildly. These range from queries regarding bike fit and a certain race course specifics all the way to one athlete with an organ transplant inquiring about a treatment change. (And what would this particular questioner do with the answer if he/she got one? Run it by the doc would be my answer.) We also must keep in the back of our minds that we’re receiving advice from an unknown source… who might be one of my children or might be someone with a fourth-grade education.
All of that said, I believe there’s a solid place for this type of give and take on line and the forums do considerably more good than harm. I sincerely believe there’s an innate goodness, a desire to help others in most answered questions. And, rather than being mean-spirited, in most instances the responder is doing so with a good heart and a willingness to share his/her experiences.
One good example recently would be an athlete with a sports hernia who was really in the dark about his short- and long-term expectations. Aside from a few good natured “cat call” type responses, there were several well-formed answers from those who’d walked this road before him and their pathways had led to success….and so would his. Think how comforting that would be if it were your hernia.
Sean Connery, in a movie called Finding Forrester, is noted for saying, "Do you know what people are most afraid of? That which they don't understand."
When injured or ill, you can't train harder, change coaches, buy yet another supplement, try the latest diet fad or wish your way out of it. So, in this day, one of the options is to turn to your good friend - the internet. Maybe not for a specific answer, but if nobody you know has this problem, but others do, even if their outcome isn't perfect, not only do you learn something but maybe you get a modicum of control back. If you can change an unknown into a known, even if the answer is different from that desired, you restore some degree of control. Your control. Just make sure you analyze the answer as you would from any source before acting on it.